Top Ten

July 24, 2013

SIAST sees jump in international enrolment

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of enrolled international students across its 4 campuses. In approximately 5 years, SIAST has gone from 30 international students to close to 300, and the majority of this growth happened without aggressive international recruitment policies. SIAST officials credit the institution’s high graduate employment rate and the labour market boom in Saskatchewan for attracting many students, who can choose to work in the province after graduation for 1-3 years before applying for permanent residency or returning to home countries. SIAST is now working with recruitment companies in China and India, and is adding ESL staff and other supports to ensure that international students receive the support they need. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Ryerson launches new English-language program

Ryerson University has launched a new program for students who are academically qualified to apply for admission but don’t meet the minimum English proficiency requirements. The Ryerson University Foundation Program, offered by Ryerson’s Chang School of Continuing Education, Faculty of Arts, and Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, offers intensive English language and academic skills instruction combined with undergraduate course work. Students who successfully complete the course are admitted to degree programs with at least one undergraduate course credit. The program, which begins this fall, currently has 23 enrolled students from China, Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan and Mauritius, speaking seven to 10 different languages. Recent studies have shown that English skills are poor among Chinese students planning to study in English-speaking countries. Ryerson News

George Brown College expands experiential learning offerings

Toronto’s George Brown College has expanded its experiential learning opportunities for students, offering field education opportunities in 75% of its programs. George Brown also plans to meet a target of 80% of programs by 2014, 90% of programs by 2015, and 100% of programs containing co-op education by 2016. Earlier this year, Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Council published a report that included the recommendation to increase the number of experiential learning opportunities for secondary and PSE students by providing more co-ops, work placements, and apprenticeships. George Brown News Release

CFI to launch new research collaboration resource

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) this fall will launch a new online resource that will allow businesses to connect with research facilities at universities, colleges and research hospitals across the country to establish research partnerships and collaborations. The new section of the CFI website will list research labs and facilities that are funded by the CFI or use CFI-funded infrastructure, and that are working with or are interested in working with the private sector. The PSE sector has been discussing the need for greater industry-university collaboration for the past several years.  CFI News Release

International students await arbitration as Visa processing lags behind

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) and the federal government will likely enter binding arbitration to find a solution to the rotating strikes and work-to-rule campaigns that have been in effect for several months at international visa application centres. PAFSO offered binding arbitration to Treasury Board president Tony Clement last week, who has responded with conditions, which will be reviewed by PAFSO before any further actions are taken. Registration deadlines are looming, and Canadian PSE institutions are concerned that international students unable to obtain visas eventually will go elsewhere to study, affecting the finances of institutions, and possibly giving Canada a negative reputation globally. The union and the government are at odds regarding salaries. Globe and Mail

Postscript: July 31, 2013

Negotiations between the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) and the federal government have broken down after the union rejected the government’s response to the union’s July 18 offer to enter back into binding arbitration. Since then, 15 Canadian embassies were to withdraw services, causing further delays in the processing of student visas. Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it is prioritizing “urgent humanitarian visa applications” as the department monitors the labour situation. National Post

Deadline looms for Experimental Lakes Area

On September 1, an agreement between Ontario and the federal government that allows scientists to perform experiments in the 58 lakes of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) will expire, and there has been little effort to establish a new agreement after the federal government announced in the spring that it would no longer fund the outdoor laboratory project that has operated for 40 years. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne pledged financial support for the ELA, but has failed to produce any concrete plans or numbers. The Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development has offered to take on the ELA, but is waiting for Ontario to provide funding details before they can propose a business plan. The ELA provides scientists with an area for environmental research such as the effects of pollutants, and technology that allows for the easy determination of aquatic health. Globe and Mail

Graduate student loans mean postponing life’s milestones

Many graduate and post-graduate students are postponing a number of life milestones such as buying a home, getting married or moving out of their family home, according to a TD Bank study. The study, which polled 590 Canadians currently attending graduate or post-graduate education or attended in the past 3 years, found that 30% of grad students accumulate more debt than expected, and 40% find it difficult to make minimum repayments on student loans in the first 2 years after graduating. This ultimately prevents Master’s and PhD students and recent grads from “moving to the next phase of their lives.” 40% of respondents said they postponed buying a home until their student loan debt is paid off. 18% of the participants even said they wouldn’t move out of their parent’s house until they were debt-free. TD News Release

Minerva project finds way around accreditation conundrum

The Minerva project, an online education venture announced last spring with much publicity and a $25-million investment, has found a way around its problem of how to get accredited by aligning itself with an already-accredited institution. Minerva has announced that it will partner with the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. However, the partnership still must be approved by Keck's accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Ben Nelson, the project’s founder, says Minerva plans to define "elite" differently from Ivy League and other highly selective institutions, at a lower price. Inside Higher Ed

UK offers premium visa services to PSE institutions

The Home Office in the UK has begun offering institutions a “premium” immigration service at a cost of £8,000 a year that includes a dedicated account manager, and allows universities to request early checks of the immigration status of potential students. Dominic Scott, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, raised concerns that “the premium service would adversely affect smaller institutions because they would have to pay the same fee as a university with thousands of international students.” The government has been running a free pilot of the service since March, in which 138 institutions took part. So far, 20 institutions have signed up for the paid service. Times Higher Education

White public-school students ‘less likely to go to university’

New research in the UK shows that more Asian and black public school graduates are going on to higher education than are white students. 66% of Asian students and 61% of black students from UK public schools went on to higher education compared with 46% of white students who gained a place at university. The stats came on the same day as figures from a UK application service that show that white 18-year-olds have had the lowest application rate for university courses since 2009. In addition, the government data revealed that white students were also less likely to go on to a “top-third” university - based on A-level scores of entrants in 2010-11 - than other ethnic groups. Times Higher Education